A friend recently shared with me a musing of T. S. Eliot in which he wrote, "...and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time."
I dwelt upon that thought for a time as I considered how to best share about an upcoming event which helps young men find — and more importantly, know — a place for the first time.
Caleb Crow was the second child of Jerry and Donna Crow, who raised their family in Rockdale County. Caleb was everything any parent could want. He attended Sims Elementary School and Edwards Middle School, and started his secondary work at Heritage High. When he hit the 11th grade, however, he began to explore the world of alcohol and drug use, resulting in a chain of poor choices which started him down the tortuous road of addiction.
The parents’ first inkling that something was amiss was when Caleb’s grades began to plummet. They jumped through the hoops concerned parents normally take, trying to find out what had changed in their son’s life. But the boy was good at hiding his problems, and the parents were - as are so many parents - blinded by the fact that their son had always been a good kid. This sudden plunge could have nothing to do with alcohol or drug use. Not for their son. Not for their family.
Caleb transferred to another high school, where his problems worsened. The parents considered options and decided a change of scenery was in order. They then moved to Monticello, and Caleb graduated from Jasper County High. But the family learned the hard lesson that you can change locations all you want, but problems move with you.
Finally, the real issues surfaced. Caleb’s stunned parents began seeking help for their son. After researching every possible avenue, Caleb settled in Greene County’s little wayside village of Penfield, site of the original Mercer University campus - in an amazingly effective program operated by Penfield Christian Homes.
There, Caleb found peace and began learning how to confront his demons through the Christian ministry sponsored by the Georgia Baptist Convention. Following four months of residence in the shadow of Old Mercer’s original church building, Caleb completed an after care program with New Faith Ministries.
Caleb’s sobriety date, the day he became free from the grip of alcohol and drugs, was April 11, 2004. For the next three years he held jobs with increasing areas of responsibility, and served as a spokesman reaching out to troubled youth.
Tragically, after shedding the hell of addiction, Caleb died on April 7, 2007 from a seizure associated with a lifelong medical illness not related to his alcohol and drug abuse.
Grieving from the loss of their child, having traveled from the pits of depression to the heights of joy from Caleb’s recovery, the Crow family established a not-for-profit organization dedicated in Caleb’s memory, to raise awareness of different treatment options available to others fighting addiction. Each year the family holds two events, a memorial motorcycle ride and a walk around Stone Mountain, which raises money and spreads public awareness for the Penfield Christian Homes, the New Life Ministries, Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-Anon, and other organizations offering help.
The Stone Mountain event is next Saturday, Nov. 6. "Caleb’s Walk" will be held in the Studdard Park Picnic Area from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Refreshments and entertainment are provided. Representatives from Penfield and other organizations will be on hand to provide information about their programs. There is no pressure, whatsoever, for anyone to donate nor to do anything other than to celebrate the recovered life of Caleb Crow. Learn more at: www.calebsjourney.org
Alcoholics Anonymous has familiarized the beautiful peace of "The Serenity Prayer:"
"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."
There are some few, rare people who come along during the brief span of our existence who actually make a difference for the rest of us. I invite you to mark Saturday on your calendar to celebrate the recovered life of Caleb, one such individual. Come to Stone Mountain Park. Help make it possible for someone to arrive at their starting point and know it for the first time.
Nat Harwell is a long-time resident of Newton County. His columns appear regularly on Sundays.